Book Review: Don’t Know Much About Geography

Don’t Know Much About Geography, by Kenneth C. Davis

Don’t know much about geography? You’re not alone. Neither does the author. Or, to be more precise, sometimes the author confuses writing about geography in such a way as to educate, inform, and amuse audiences who often consider geography to be boring with writing thinly veiled propaganda that engages in double-standards in terms of what the author seeks to promote and what he seeks to attack. This is the sort of book that is written for the people who know little about biblical historical geography and like it less, given the author’s hostility towards the Bible and to the high regard that many people still have for it. It is written by people who are left of center politically, in that the author whines about how environmentalists are often considered to be extremists and about the threats to intrusive regulations from Republican administrations, promoting bogus scientific theories like the Gaia hypothesis and holding to scare tactics about global warming and the like, showing that bad science is acceptable if it promotes wealth redistribution to poorer countries and serves progressive political agendas. In addition, this book writes in such a way as to guarantee its obsolescence, especially in that it writes about geography from a current affairs perspective rather than seeking to write about that which is timeless and true and of evergreen relevance.

In terms of its contents, the author divides geography into several sections and discusses various topics of importance by seeking to answer humorous questions. After a short introduction that discusses a harrowing experience as a child being confused that the Nile was shown as flowing up, the first chapter discusses matters of conceiving the world and on mapping it, areas of fundamental importance in geography. The next chapter talks about the naming of places under the guise of pondering why the badlands are called bad, looking at mountains and making most of the book’s blunders in exploring physical geography while seeking to mock the Bible. The third chapter explores the geography of the oceans and seas. The fourth chapter, in looking at elephants in the alps, addresses matters of political geography and the effect of human geography, even the unsavory personal lives of some explorers, like polar pedophile Robert Peary, whose book about exploring the North pole included child pornography under the guise of “ethnographic studies (217).” After this the author spends an entire chapter talking about environmental geography and progressive social causes and the view that the earth is some sort of living organism, and another chapter talking about space, in which he shows his knowledge of astronomy to be particularly slight, not including any of the recent planets and their discoveries, while making the odd claim that Pluto may be part of another solar system (314). After this the author includes explanations of the names of states and their nicknames and a listing of the nations of the world and their status vis-a-vis the United Nations that appears as if it would have been accurate in 1992, at best.

The subtitle of this book is “Everything you need to know about the world but never learned,” but it is clear that the author has a skewed form of knowledge. In writing a book in such a fashion as to attempt to enlist contemporary conditions for political causes, the author leaves himself open to criticism in being biased in several ways. For one, this is not geography written with an eye towards education, but rather indoctrination into some sort of leftist viewpoint that views the wealth given to certain countries not as a gift from God to be carefully stewarded, which would be the biblical perspective, but rather that it should be given to poorer countries despite their corruption and their gross inability to handle the resources they have already been given. Nearly everything about this book that is viewed as relevant is relevant only to serve some sort of bogus political aims, not because it is actually worthwhile or necessary knowledge. In fact, someone who read this book would not be wiser than most people in terms of their actual geographical knowledge, but because their so-called knowledge would correspond to the prejudices and political worldview of a certain unsavory class of people, they would feel themselves to be a lot smarter than they were, like many of the people who post the leftist drivel that is so common on contemporary social media. There is a worse thing than being ignorant, and that is being ignorant and thinking oneself to be wise, which is a mistake this author makes to a large degree.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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